Med. Weter. 78 (11), 577-580, 2022

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Jacek Sokołowski Kamila Janicka, Iwona Rozempolska-Rucińska
Influence of the level of anxiety on the eating behavior of sheep
The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of the anxiety level on the feeding behavior of sheep. Observations were performed on 30 Świniarka sheep kept under uniform environmental conditions in a combined indoor-pasture management system. The behavior of grazing animals was recorded (from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm) for one month during the grazing season. Additionally, when a human (in a daily routine) or a dog (in herding training) appeared in the pasture, the distance that the animals kept from them was measured. The time the sheep took to approach a new object was also measured. A preliminary assessment of their response to an unfamiliar dog made it possible to assign the sheep to two groups: G1 (a low level of anxiety) and G2 (a high level of anxiety). The behaviors of the two groups of animals were significantly different. The timid animals (G2) maintained significantly greater distances, both from the man and the dog, than did the bold animals (G1). The G1 sheep approached a new object significantly sooner. The results indicate a strong influence of the level of anxiety on the feeding behavior of small ruminants. The presence of a stressor in the environment leads to a decrease in feed and water intake time. The results of observations made in the present study can be used in modifying the existing ways of handling sheep so as to increase their welfare.
Keywords: sheep, feeding behavior, anxiety level